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Starters Jeff Karstens and Jaime Garcia engaged in a pitchers' duel for most of the first nine innings, but that was quickly forgotten, as the two teams headed into extras with the score tied at 2-2. Kevin Correia pitched the ninth and 10th innings for the Pirates, while Mitchell Boggs pitched the 10th for the Cards.
The Bucs nearly scored off Edward Mujica in the 11th when Josh Harrison tripled with one out, but pinch-hitter Neil Walker hit into a double play. From there, the Bucs turned to Chris Resop, who pitched three scoreless frames. Then Joel Hanrahan pitched the 14th, and Jared Hughes came on in the 15th.
The Bucs finally scored in the 17th, when starting pitcher James McDonald (a former minor-league outfielder) pinch-hit, singled, and eventually came home on Jones' infield single. But the Cardinals answered, when Yadier Molina singled and (thanks in part to a poor defensive play by Andrew McCutchen) eventually came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Tony Cruz.
Another starting pitcher, Wandy Rodriguez, came in to pitch in the bottom half of the 18th. (Rodriguez was scheduled to start on Monday; it remains to be seen how the Pirates will handle that.) Rodriguez pitched a scoreless inning, and then, in the top of the 19th, Alvarez hit a solo homer to center off rookie reliever Barret Browning, giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead. Browning then completely fell apart, putting three runners on before allowing a two-run single by McCutchen.
That put the Pirates up three, and Rodriguez was able to shut the Cards down for another inning, sealing his first victory as a Buc since being acquired in a trade with the Astros about a month ago.
The Pirates, of course, lost a crucial 19-inning game last year in Atlanta when umpire Jerry Meals blew a call at the plate. The Bucs collapsed shortly thereafter. The ending of Sunday's game wasn't nearly as dramatic, but it's still noteworthy that the Pirates managed to win a key 19-inning game in the midst of a pennant race. The Pirates are now a game up on the Giants and two up on the Cardinals in the race for the second wild card spot.
For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.
The dust has settled from the numerous moves the PIttsburgh Pirates have made leading up to their game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, and the two teams finally released their lineups for the contest.
Jose Tabata will be in the Pirates lineup for the first time since July 1, taking over in left field for the injured Starling Marte. Josh Harrison will move to second base as he fills in for Jordy Mercer, who is on paternity leave.
Here are the lineups for the game.
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was sent to the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain.
Outfielder Starling Marte continues to have troubles with his side, and is unavailable for Sunday's game. It is still unknown how long he will be out. Just in case, the Pirates recalled Jose Tabata, who joins the team as Jordy Mercer goes on paternity leave to be with his wife during the birth of their child.
As for the pitching side, Clint Hurdle's experiment of a six-man rotation is ending, as Kevin Correia will again be sent to the bullpen. The current setup of the rotation for the team's three game series in San Diego that begins on Monday will be Wandy Rodriguez, then A.J. Burnett on Tuesday, followed by James McDonald on Wednesday.
Jeff Karstens takes on Jaime Garcia at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, in what appears to be a big game in the race for the second N.L. Wild Card. The Pirates lead the Dodgers by a half game, and the Cardinals by a full game, so they need a win Sunday to stay in the lead.
Garcia is making his first start since June 5 after missing two months with a shoulder strain. After beginning his Cardinals rotation career with a bang in 2010, Garcia has somehow become, in the words of SB Nation St. Louis editor Dan Moore, "boring":
Jaime Garcia is weirdly boring now—all the troubles with W-L record and the weird non-control-problem-control-problems have continued past the point where the novelty subsided. But that doesn't make him good, or potentially better-than-good in the future—it just makes him kind of boring.
Nonetheless, Garcia is a much better pitcher than his 4.48 ERA this year suggests -- he strikes out his fair share of batters and gets lots of ground balls.
Pittsburgh Pirates rookie shortstop Jordy Mercer does not appear to have a broken right wrist after being hit with a pitch in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Mercer relayed the news to a Pirates beat writer after getting X-rays on his wrist.
Initial word on— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) August 18, 2012
#Pirates Mercer: xrays show no break in rt wrist. "Probably more tendon than bone. We'll see," Mercer told me.
Mercer had been having a good day prior to being hit by Cardinals closer Jason Motte, knocking in two runs to go along with two hits, one of them a run-scoring double.
Mercer has struggled at the plate during his brief time in the big leagues. Over 24 games and 48 at bats, he is hitting .188 with a .606 OPS on the season.
The Pirates had the bases loaded trailing by two and nobody out against Jason Motte in the ninth, but could only muster a single run on a fielders' choice by Andrew McCutchen. Garrett Jones then struck out and Josh Harrison hit into a fielders' choice to end the contest.
Earlier in the game, Erik Bedard was knocked around by the Redbirds, giving up five earned runs in just 4.2 innings of work on nine hits and three walks.
Jordy Mercer and Gaby Sanchez were bright spots for the Bucs. Both had two-hit games and a double, with Mercer driving in two runs.
Yadier Molina and Shane Robinson contributed two RBI apiece for St. Louis. Molina was a force all day, leading the way with three hits.
Lance Lynn was mediocre for the Cards, allowing three runs in 4.1 frames while striking out eight.
The Pirates remain a game ahead of St. Louis in both the NL Central and wild-card races.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will try to take their weekend series against the Cardinals with a win on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. The Bucs edged out a 2-1 win on Friday night behind a rebound performance by James McDonald and three solid innings of work from the bullpen. Erik Bedard will take the ball for Clint Hurdle in second game of the series.
Bedard will be opposed by Lance Lynn, who enters the game 13-5 with a 3.65 ERA. With the afternoon game following the evening finish on Friday, Hurdle juggled the lineup card a bit. Rod Barajas will replace Matt McKenry behind the plate, while Jordy Mercer will move from the eight-hole and bat second behind Starling Marte. The complete lineups for both teams below:
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced prices for 2012 playoff tickets on Friday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are on a bit of a roll having won two in a row. They'll look to keep building on that momentum when they square off against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday in the second game of their series.
Erik Bedard is slated to take the hill for the Bucs and he'll be opposed by Lance Lynn of the Cardinals. After a good start to the season, Bedard hit a bit of a rough patch. But he's been solid in four of his last five starts giving up three earned runs or less. In three of those contests, he's limited opposing teams to a total of two earned runs.
Despite their recent slide, the Pirates still remain as one of the leaders for the two National League wild card slots along with the Atlanta Braves.
The Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a good start in their weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning 2-1 on the road. The two teams are neck and neck in the wild card standings and the win was certainly a much-needed one for the Pirates, who have just come off a rough series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Just as important as the victory was the start by Pirates pitcher James McDonald. The team's best starter in the first half of the season had struggled mightily after the All-Star break. But on Friday, he had easily his best start in a while, pitching six scoreless innings while striking out seven and giving up only two hits.
Cardinals' pitcher Jake Westbrook was equally impressive, going 7 2/3 innings, giving up only one earned run. Neither team produced much offense, but the Pirates had just enough.
Pirates' reliever Joel Hanrahan picked up the save.
For more on the Pirates, head over to Bucs Dugout.
The Pittsburgh Pirates begin a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. The series could have major implications in the NL Central and Wild Card race.